One Wisconsin Now
Press Release

Charlie Sykes’ Bullying, Racism, Sexism and Propaganda to Advance Wisconsin Republicans on Milwaukee Right Wing Radio Comes to an End

‘Goodbye and Good Riddance’ to Conservative Mouthpiece and Broadcasting Bully

By - Dec 19th, 2016 01:20 pm
Charlie Sykes. Photo by Michael Horne.

Charlie Sykes. Photo by Michael Horne.

MADISON, Wis. — For 23 years Charlie Sykes used the public airwaves to deliver Republican talking points, at times literally given to him by right-wing politicians and interest groups, to attack the poor and minorities and degrade political discourse in the state of Wisconsin. On his final day of his radio program, One Wisconsin Now says goodbye, and good riddance.

“For 23 years Charlie Sykes put the bully in bully pulpit, using his time on the public airwaves to attack those less powerful, undermine reasonable public discourse and promote his favored Republican politicians and their agendas,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “Today, to paraphrase broadcasting titan Edward R. Murrow, we say ‘goodbye and good riddance’ to Charlie Sykes.”

Sykes was a leading propagandist for Republicans in Wisconsin, lending his show to allow conservatives to deliver their message unchallenged by him and in the absence of differing points of view, and at times literally delivering talking points provided to him by politicians and special interests. For example, Gov. Scott Walker directed Sykes to make open records requests to obtain information that would be damaging to his 2010 gubernatorial primary opponent.

After a 2011 state Supreme Court election the right-wing feared they had lost, conservative activists and lobbyists plotted, absent a shred of evidence, to make allegations of voting impropriety. Sykes broadcast the allegations the next day. In 2016 Sykes provided nearly unlimited airtime to conservative court candidate Rebecca Bradley after writings in which she revealed her virulent homophobia, compared birth control to murder and suggested women could be blamed for their date rape were publicized.

The broadcast behavior of Sykes was particularly despicable on issues of race and poverty. He used his show to broadcast a blatantly racist video mocking food stamp recipients and has referred to the First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama, as “mooch.”

Sykes’ loyalty to conservative causes was lucrative for him. He holds a “senior fellowship” at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, a front group supported by the Bradley Foundation, run by Gov. Walker’s campaign co-chair Michael Grebe through summer 2016. Control of the massive right wing foundation and the writing of checks to Sykes’ side project has transferred to Rick Graber, former head of the Wisconsin Republican Party and foreign service appointee of George W. Bush.

Ross noted that, as he prepares to embark on the next phase of his career, Sykes has been on a farewell tour seemingly seeking to distance himself from his legacy, refusing to accept personal responsibility for a decades long career built on promoting the Republican Party, attacking political opponents and spewing racism, sexism and homophobia that played to the fears and biases of his listeners, all to make a buck.

He concluded, “Charlie Sykes is culpable for much of what he now decries. While certainly not the first person to wash his hands of some disaster he created, Sykes’ refusal to own his role is a fitting end to a reprehensible radio career.”

One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.

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9 thoughts on “Charlie Sykes’ Bullying, Racism, Sexism and Propaganda to Advance Wisconsin Republicans on Milwaukee Right Wing Radio Comes to an End”

  1. WashCoRepub says:

    What a legacy Mr. Sykes has built. A sincere “thank you” for his decades of work, building Wisconsin into a conservative powerhouse. Truly an amazing journey.

  2. Jason says:

    In April of 2016 Right wing talk show host Charkie Sykes confronted Donald Trump on his Racism and misogyny and his bully antics. Left wing cable television shows in April of 2016 like MSNBC, CNN, CBS, NBC and ABC did nothing to confront Trump in fact, they wanted Trump to be the nominee. In Wisconsin, Cruz defeated Trump by 10 points thank you Charlie, and the left wing media got their wish. A Trump, Clinton show down. The establishment left wanted Clinton and destroyed Bernie.

  3. fightingbobfan says:

    The question everyone has to ask themselves is, what has conservatism done for Wisconsin?

    How about nothing? How about less than nothing?

    We have a lackluster economy. We have our U-System, which was the pride of the state and a major economic driver taking on water slowly like the Titanic. We have the worst conditions for minorities in the country, even Dixie. We have the spoiling of our environment. We have young people leaving the state in droves because of old-fart thinking typified by our dull boy governor.

    We could be doing much, much better. Even WashCoRepub could be doing better, unless he is in the 1%, which is doubtful.

  4. Vincent Hanna says:

    What about his withering criticism of conservative media and Trump, WashCoRepub? Nothing to say about that?

  5. I would be more comfortable if Sykes had titled his new book “How I Helped the Right Lose Its Mind” because he is getting far too much credit for turning against Trump without acknowledging how often and how viciously he built an audience by parroting the extremism. Media critics tuning in today compliment him on resisting the “fake news” neglecting how for decades people in Wisconsin watched him not resist and actually abet.

  6. Tom says:

    As someone who spent 8 weeks being personally attacked by Sykes’ right wing media machine during a political candidacy some 20 years ago, I would agree that Sykes new mea culpa “Did I cause this”, is nothing but self-serving BS. Yes, Charlie, you knowingly and complicitly were a big part of the demonization of Democrats and anyone who did not fit your right wing views and those of your big money supporters.

    In what nowdays would be described as “fake news”, you constantly “broke” new stories on your show that were complete and totally false. You urged your listeners to call my employer and demand that I be fired because I was running for a part time political office. My employer was delunged with calls and harassment from your loyal right wingnut listeners.

    As the leaked John Doe files showed, Charlie Sykes was a close confident of Scott Walker, cooperating with his every request, from hours of free media time to filing open records requests on political opponents. Without Charlie Sykes and the dark money financiers he works for, Scott Walker probably doesn’t get elected, and likely loses his recall election.

    Teachers across Walker’s Wisconsin can thank Charlie Sykes daily vicious attacks on them for the enduring right wing slurs characterizing Wisconsin’s teachers as “parasites, moochers, lazy fat pigs, stupid union thugs, fat b$tches, and idiots”. In August 2011, Charlie Sykes called on his listeners to attend the New Berlin School Board meeting and “teach those teachers a lesson”. Hundreds of rabid anti-teacher wingnuts showed up to harass teachers at the meeting. The hateful atmosphere in that meeting became so unstable that, fearing for their safety, many teachers got up and left early, enduring a shower of spit and being pelted by the pacifiers that Sykes had urged his listeners to bring to the meeting to “teach those teachers a lesson”.

    One year later, Sykes again used his show to incite violence against Wisconsin teachers after Bill Penzey of Penzey’s Spice offered all Wisconsin teachers a free box of spices as a Thank You for being a teacher in Wisconsin. The free spice box included a bumper sticker, “Love Teachers”, which many teachers proudly put on their bumpers. Sykes joined the other right wing radio haters in urging his listeners to show those radical union teachers what Wisconsin really thinks of them. Many teachers with the bumper stickers had their cars vandalized, from keying the paint to windshield wipers being ripped off. All as a result of the campaign of continual campaign of hatred towards teachers, from Sykes and his syncophants in the right wing talk radio community.

    So don’t tell me that Charlie Sykes has changed anything as he enters this new phase of his life. A leopard never changes his spots. Sykes hasn’t changed one bit.

  7. Jason says:

    Tom, thank you and the other teachers for your service. You are the working poor and as a Wisconsin tax payer I acknowledge that I have neglected you.

  8. Thomas says:


    I encourage you to send post # 6 to MSNBC, with a note to Rachael, Chris, Laurence … asking one of them to ask Charlie to address points in your post the next time he appears on one of their programs.

  9. Vincent Hanna says:

    That’s what I assumed Tom. He’s an opportunist leveraging an anti-Trump stance for all it’s worth. It’s not as if criticizing someone like Trump is going out on a limb.

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